JLP leader and Prime Minister Andrew Holness and PNP leader Dr. Peter Phillips, yesterday signed the Code of Political Conduct at a ceremony held at Emancipation Park in St. Andrew.
The JLP leader said he was totally against any violent or intimidatory conduct and if it comes to his attention that supporters are engaging in such practices, “I would definitely see to their prosecution”.
He says he believes that the time has come to classify political crimes as hate crimes, suggesting that suspected incidents should be “deliberately investigated to discover if there was any motivation that was political”.
“I am not here for symbolism. I am here because I genuinely believe that Jamaican politics can be conducted without any hint, any form, any measure that could be considered to be intimidatory – to be confrontational, to be violent. In a sense, though we claim it as an achievement, it is still a signal to the country that the potential [for violence] exists in our politics, because, were it the case that the potential did not exist, then the symbolism of this [event] would not be necessary,” Holness declared.
the JLP leader underscored how egregious politically motivated crimes are and is strident in his call for them to be classified as hate crimes. He said: “It is obvious that the potential is still in our culture for our politics to disintegrate, but I believe the time has come where we should classify political crimes as hate crimes. I believe the time has come that we shouldn’t cover acts of criminality as just mere acts of criminality. If they happened within a context, they must be deliberately investigated to discover if there were any motivation that was political in the crime. That is the only way that we are going to genuinely and truly remove this potential from our culture”.
Mr. Holness says the Jamaica Labour Party Government will bring a law to classify as hate crimes in Jamaica, those that are politically motivated, as well as those that can be determined to be motivated by the attributes of the person against whom they are committed. He also says Jamaica must eliminate political violence, political exclusion and garrison-type politics from our culture.
Dr. Phillips, in his remarks, said that in order for the Code of Political Conduct to contribute to a culture change, “it is going to require the engagement of all the key stakeholders”.
He said that political leaders have a responsibility to measure their words and comments and to ensure that they do not wittingly or unwittingly contribute to violence or confrontation by “loose tongues”.
“Candidates need to exercise tolerance and display tolerance and goodwill and exercise influence over their supporters so that harmony can be the watchword and the reality on the political campaign trail rather than an atmosphere of confrontation and ill will,” he stressed.
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